Monday, August 15, 2011

Gold rush in the Australian outback draws city slickers

Read the New York Times story, "Gold Fever Gripping the Australian Outback," here. An excerpt about the phenomenon follows, featuring the towns of Mudgee and Hargraves:

An influx of out-of-towners to prospect in Australia has been a boon for small-business owners in former gold rush towns, many of which have fallen on hard times in recent years.

Take, for example, the tiny outback hamlet of Mudgee, about 170 miles northwest of Sydney. In 1851 it had a population of just 200, before ballooning to 20,000 after the discovery of gold in nearby Hargraves, which was ground zero for the first gold rush in the history of New South Wales.

But the fortunes of Mudgee flagged along with gold prices in the last century. Young people moved to the cities in search of steady work, while punishing droughts drove away farmers. Today, there are just 8,000 people spread sparsely along lonely streets built for more than twice that many inhabitants.

Australia is the second largest producer of gold in the world, after China.

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